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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
06

Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree

There's a children's song that likens apricot blossoms to popping popcorn, and I have to say, it really does kind of look like that. This is my first blossom season as the owner of an apricot tree, and the whole thing is pretty charming. I now own three different types of fruit trees, and it's interesting how it makes me more aware of the seasons. Or maybe it's the passage of time. Or maybe it's that the passage of time is now more formally segmented in these seasonal cycles. Don't get me wrong, fruit trees are a bit tricky to figure out, and I'm still learning. But overall it adds a new element to the year based on where the trees and their crops are at any given time.

My lemon tree produces fruit all year round. Meaning the tree is covered with lemons in various stages of growing, from tiny green bulbs to medium-sized fruit gradually turning yellow, to fully-grown lemons that are ready to pick. There's less pressure with a lemon tree, in that you always have what you need when you need it. And when you pick one, there's another one growing right behind it. My orange tree produces throughout the year as well, but it's more in batches, where the oranges tend to grow at the same rate, meaning they're ready at the same time. And then there's the apricot tree, which works all year to produce one harvest. It's one and done, perfect for making a big batch of jam to enjoy throughout the year, but it does mean more pressure, in that if anything goes wrong, you're not going to get any fruit and will have to wait a whole year before getting another chance.

I would guess you can categorize almost everything in life as being like one of these trees. I think of writing like a lemon tree, in that there's no one single right time for it. It happens all year round, anytime, as you need it or as it finds you. There's no season for writing, per se, and I think that's what we could say about any of our hobbies. They fill the time when we have it and provide everything from escape to relief to satisfaction. For things that require more time, work, and preparation and ultimately produce a single brief but amazing result, these are like apricot trees. I'm working on one right now myself, and have been for months. It's something I've wanted to make happen for many years and involves multiple parties and schedules and quite a few logistics that need to align. I'll only get one shot at it, and although the result will be amazing and completely worth it, it's not something I'll get to experience again. I guess that's what makes apricot trees so special.

One last note about fruit trees. Their seasons remind me that while nothing is permanent (the winters of our lives turn into springs), the pattern certainly is. Meaning getting through a metaphorical winter doesn't mean there isn't another one coming behind it--one that could be even more devastating. But springs truly do follow every winter, so I'll leave you with the lyric of one of my Grandpa's favorite songs: "Deep in December, it's nice to remember, although you know the snow will follow. Deep in December, it's nice to remember the fire of September that made us mellow. Deep in December, our hearts should remember and follow."

AUG
05

This is My Jam

I recently acquired some fruit trees. The lemons and oranges are pretty straightforward, and the only issue I run into is that I can't really use them fast enough. I always wondered why people would bring in heaps of home-grown produce to the office with a "take what you want" sign, but now I know. Also, let's be real. Many of the things you can make with lemons require a ridiculous amount of sugar. It's like seeing how the sausage is made, but with lemonade. And you can only make so many pitchers of lemonade before you start asking yourself if you should really be drinking so much of it.

The apricots are another story entirely. For one thing, in my head I was confusing them with peaches. Or I was at least picturing peaches in my mind as I watched them grow from small green spheres to small peach spheres. "I just need to wait for them to get bigger," is what I thought every time looked out at the tree. Nevermind that they were the perfect color. Nevermind that the branches were already weighing heavy from the small spheres. Nevermind that they started falling OFF the tree. I thought they would get bigger, so I waited. Luckily I realized they were as big as they were going to get and perfectly (if a bit over) ripe in time to harvest the entire tree's worth.

Of course, what does one then do with an entire tree of apricots that pretty much need to be eaten immediately? Naturally, I turned to jam. Nevermind that I had never made jam of any kind. Nevermind that I had to ask the store clerk where to find the canning jars (wouldn't you assume baking??). Nevermind that I only bought about half the jars I ended up needing. Nevermind that I came very close to only putting in a fraction of the required sugar. In any case, the jam got made, and it's more delicious than someone with no experience should have been able to produce. Really. And it delights me that both the apricots and required lemon juice came from my own backyard.

I guess it's jut refreshing to be trying new things, even if those new things require "working" tree fertilizer into the soil, far enough out to cover the "drip line." (Cue Moira and David Rose trying to fold in cheese.) Here's to next year's harvest!